American Indians from Dulce, New Mexico, love us and often visit us. They belong to the Jicarilla-Apache tribe. Dulce is fifty miles south of where we live. In fact, one of our favorite Indian families, the Vigils, are on their way just now to bring us a load of firewood. These wonderful people seldom let us know when they are coming. They rely on the Holy Spirit to let them know when it’s time for a visit, and they are rarely wrong.
On one occasion, there was a knock on the door, and Karla and her daughter were waiting for me to open it. I reluctantly opened the door because I was very exhausted; I could hardly speak I was so totally spent. Nevertheless, I invited them to come in. After we hugged one another, they found their favorite place on the couch and waited for me to open my treasure chest of stories. I did not even have the strength to open the lid. They sat there in confused silence, wondering what might be wrong. In the past I had always entertained them with the latest stories from my treasure chest.
They never came for a handout, but were always ready to give a hand-up; they came to hear what God had been doing in our lives since their last visit. And I loved telling them; but this time I was running on fumes and didn’t have anything for anyone.
Finally, I told them, saying, “I have nothing to give or tell you today. I am totally spent. I am like a piece of fine china that is ready to shatter if someone just says ‘boo.’ Here is your chance to minister to me. I am very weak and needy.”
The two looked at each other. They could hardly believe what they heard. Peter had always been the strong one in the past, like an Ever-Ready battery. Slowly and with a bit of hesitation, they got up from the couch and stood in front of me. They asked Rebekah for some anointing oil and anointed my forehead. Then they began to pray, to praise, to sing in the Spirit, to dance around me, to clap their hands, etc. and etc. They had great freedom in the Spirit in our home to let their gifts minister to me and to Jesus in me.
have to be strong all the time. Peter, you don’t have to be strong all the time.”
For the longest time nothing happened. It seemed that all my spiritual veins had collapsed. The angels with their syringes could not find any place to give me an infusion of Life. (Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE.”)
The two women continued to pray and praise God while I sat there like a bump on a log. My internal dialogue went something like this: “Lord, as long as they are willing to keep this up, I’ll just sit here and see what happens.” Nothing happened for the longest time, but suddenly, something did happen.
Way in the distance, I heard these words: “Peter, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Peter, you don’t
I may have heard those same words ten or twenty times. Each time I heard them, a little more LIFE came into me. Finally, I said to Karla and her daughter, “You can stop praying. I am healed.”
Yes, indeed, I was healed. And for the next few months, I nestled and did not wrestle. I rationed my phone calls and let the answering machine pinch-hit for me. I wrote a minimum number of letters, and curtailed my visits with favorite friends at Wolf Tracks Bookstore & Coffee Company. I was not going to allow such complete exhaustion to happen again if I could help it.
The Holy Spirit kept reminding me that exhaustion is the enemy of every good soldier. Even Jesus had to go off by Himself at times to be alone with His Father. The Holy Spirit also showed me another reason He had permitted me to experience such deep exhaustion. He said two things: “Peter, others cannot give to you or minister to you when you are strong. It is their pleasure to be asked to pour the gift of LIFE into you.”
He also reminded me of the words of the apostle Paul from the Second Book of Corinthians: “The Lord spoke and said, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9). WOW!
There is a little addendum to the story, so just bear with me. Before departing Meadow Vista for our trip back to Pagosa Springs, John and Henrietta had a housewarming celebration. They had just finished building their new home and had invited a number of guests to help them dedicate the home unto the Lord. I had a strong desire to meet one of the guests but never found the right moment to be alone with him.
The day after the celebration, a Sunday, John called this man and told him that there might be some unfinished business. He told him that I had a real need to get better acquainted with him. Well, Dennis – that’s his name – felt the same way. He was able to rearrange his Sunday afternoon and come for another visit, minus the other guests being present.
Dennis and I went into John’s prayer room and spent several uninterrupted hours together. The presence of the Holy Spirit did not arrive until I told him what happened to me when the two Indian women came. As soon as I began telling him the story, his ears – or I should say, his heart – perked up. Then I was prompted to say, “Dennis, you don’t have to be strong all the time; Dennis you don’t have to be strong all the time; Dennis you do not have to be strong all the time.”
After I had repeated those words a number of times, the Holy Spirit fell upon both of us. Dennis began to weep and weep as he lifted his hands to heaven in grateful praise. He had gotten “the goods,” a phrase I love to use and use often. Dennis left refreshed.
All of you in reader-land, please know that these same words are also for you: “You don’t have to be strong all the time! You don’t have to be strong all the time! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE STRONG ALL THE TIME!”
By sharing the story about the two Indian women, I wanted to remind everyone that the gift of God is most securely hidden in plain, ordinary human vessels.
I recall the time I was hired to deliver cut and polished diamonds all over New York City. I was fourteen and had only been in America for one year. I carried large amounts of worldly treasures in my pockets. I went on subways and buses and took elevators and walked many blocks before I found the right door. On occasion, I received a tip after I delivered the diamonds. No one ever stopped me or suspected that I was loaded like a Brinks truck. And why not? I did not flaunt my treasures. They were hidden. I was an unknown, non-descript immigrant boy in very ordinary street clothes.
The picture of “The Diamond Courier” shown on the previous page was lovingly drawn for this manuscript by Kathy Hooper.
Jesus did not reveal Himself to everyone. Only a very few recognized who He was, the Son of the Most High God. Today, many are walking about in ordinary street clothes who have great treasures hidden in their hearts, not their pockets. They have ordinary jobs or no jobs at all. Their names are not in some “Who’s Who in America?” catalogue. They have never been on television or published a book. They have no titles or degrees. They don’t get fat paychecks every week, yet they are richer than the little fourteen-year-old immigrant boy with diamonds in his pockets. Why? Jesus Christ, the Hope of Glory, is a permanent resident in their hearts. That is what makes them so special.
The Spirit of the Living God of Israel inside of us bears witness to one another as we walk about. As we pass one another on the street or stand in line at the post office or supermarket, or just hear one another’s voices on the telephone, our spirit bears witness that we are a part of the Bride of Christ. We recognize Christ in one another. And we treat one another with great respect, as if royalty Himself were present. HE IS PRESENT!
God has a name;
God has a face;
God has a voice.
His name is Jesus;
His face is Jesus;
His voice is Jesus.
If your spirit does not bear witness to what I have written, if what you read sounds more like a foreign language you have never learned, seek God while He may be found; seek Him with all your heart. Seeking Him must be our highest priority, even a matter of life and death. A beautiful sign in our front yard, made by our friend Troy Davis, bears witness to this fact: